Talking About Same-Sex Marriage in a Society that Disagrees

For too long the political agendas and debates have framed this question, and far too often the discourse has pushed evangelical Christians into a corner where they appear condemning and discriminatory toward LGBT people

Unfortunately, sometimes appearances aren’t deceiving.  Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard to find words that don’t come across without sounding… well… bigoted. The Bible calls it a sin. How can I say that nicely?

That’s a struggle for a Christian. We like to be the compassionate ones in the room, and we tend to go out of way to fight against the stereotype of a placard waving protester screaming hell fire and damnation. But the same-sex marriage issue has forced our hand. It has become the club that our culture has used to push back against Christianity in general, and it’s partly because we do sound condemning.

I’m not suggesting we change our views. The truth of Scripture and a belief handed down by Divine precept should not be tossed to and fro with every whim of a particular culture. I didn’t have the chance to sign it, but I agree with the statement signed by 100 other pastors regarding this issue.

My question is how do we talk about it and deal with it, and still love our neighbor?

After all, there’s no denying the love and heartfelt feelings between a same-sex couple. To loudly proclaim the sinfulness of that union is often hurtful. As a friend of mine, whose son is planning to marry another man told me via Facebook “my son (and my future son) respect the institution of marriage so deeply, they seek its fulfillment for themselves. I, for one, rejoice at the dignity this great country has bestowed on our fellow gay citizens.” Can I disagree with that and still be loving? Because I appreciate him, and I know the love of a father to a son, my response involved a little soul-searching and Scripture searching.

It is a weird feeling as a Christian to be “against” what others feel as “love”. It’s weird to condemn something as sin when it seems to be just the way people are made, like condemning a corn stalk for producing ears of corn.

It’s worth noting the Bible never condemns the deep friendship or closeness in spirit that two people of the same sex can have. 1 Samuel 18:1 said David and Jonathan “became one in spirit” and David loved Jonathan “as himself.” That’s a very similar description to a husband’s love for a wife in Ephesians 5:33 which tells each husband to “love his wife as he loves himself.” A bond like that CAN be between two brothers or two sisters.

It’s the sexual actions that the Bible calls a sin, and I do believe that, but the Bible calls many other actions sinful, and they are all common to humanity. I’m not immune to sin. No one is. Sin feels a part of who we are sometimes and it’s not easy to turn off or on. But Jesus is Lord and Savior, and so we turn to Him for forgiveness and help in all things. All of us do. Fortunately, God loves sinners, including me.

Therefore it seems to me to do little good to merely condemn someone’s sin and tell them to quit it. For one, who am I to say that? The message is to believe in Jesus, to make Him Lord and Savior and let Jesus work in us to lead us to righteousness.

It’s what we all have to do, because no one can follow Christ unless they are willing to give up everything. That includes all of us, whether living homosexual and heterosexual lifestyles. If there is anything we withhold from the Lordship of Jesus, we cannot be His disciple. Luke 14:33. So if someone comes to God but says “Lord, I’ll follow you but I’m not willing to give up ______” it doesn’t matter if you’re talking a same-sex relationship or an opposite sex relationship. Everything should fall under the Lordship of Christ.

And maybe, especially when we disagree, we can start and end there. Someone believes a particular activity is a sin, while someone else believes that activity is actually good. We will argue about it undoubtedly, but for each of us, Jesus must be Lord.

For years my dad suspected dancing was a sin. I don’t. We argued once or twice but we still loved each other. Many churches believe playing a piano on Sunday morning is a sin. I don’t. I think it’s a good thing! We can be honest with each other, and we can weigh each other’s warnings. Our wrangling over what is sin and what isn’t, is to be expected. After all, we care about each other. The real question is are we willing to give everything over to our Savior and King if He requires it of us?

As the Bible says “in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.” I Peter 3:15  Getting that part right, we can patiently leave room for Jesus to work in other people’s hearts just as He works in our own. And we can remember to let Him work in our own! Because whatever the law of the land is or or isn’t, Jesus is still King of kings and the Savior for all who come to Him. He ranks higher than all human government, and at His name every knee will bow.


8 thoughts on “Talking About Same-Sex Marriage in a Society that Disagrees

  1. If talking to a society that disagrees don’t you have to come up with a rational justification for this “sin”? Just quoting the 7 or 8 condemning passages falls short. You even quoted an affirming passage in self opposition.

  2. I wasn’t aware any of the 4 passages I quoted were condemning. You misunderstand if you think I am “talking TO society” here.

  3. Mitch Sea

    Sorry Pastor, but I do not think you have grasped the magnitude of the situation.
    There was a Great Earthquake in the US this past Friday and it was not a good thing for anyone involved, especially those who are celebrating now.

    When I was 8 years old I was molested several times by a member of the same sex. As a young adult I received counseling that encouraged me to “come out of the closet”. I did so for three years and I saw things that are not addressed by the leaders of the gay community who never stop talking about love. I did not personally see the type of love that was shared by my parents in the 53 years of marriage that they shared. The scriptures led me to understand that although I was not responsible for being molested–I was responsible to choose what pleases Father God.

    Because of the fallen world we live in, anything that can go wrong will go wrong for someone at sometime.
    At that time, most of my friends in the gay community had been molested as children (one by a priest, which was not uncommon) and we were trying to find something that I do not believe can be found in a same sex relationship. I believe that my cousin, who passed away due to AIDS several years ago, was born with an attraction to the same sex. It was not cool to question such things in the gay community–not cool at all to consider that we had a choice not to follow our impulses, however we acquired them.

    I will say it again. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong because of the fallen world we live in. Father God has asked us to make difficult choices and I think that I understand why this sin is called an abomination. This sin is the result of a spiritual crisis and only Jesus can mend a broken spirit and lead the way from darkness to light.

    As Christians we have been put in a very difficult place and it will become much more difficult until the Lord Jesus comes to straighten things out (no pun intended). The time is soon coming that what I have just written will be considered illegal hate speech. The press and gay leaders consider me a “hater” now. The truth is, I love my fallen friends more than their deluded leaders do.

  4. That’s a needed perspective Mitch. And one of the silver linings in the “earthquake” on Friday is the Court specifically stated in their decision that churches AND individuals “may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” This may not last for long, but for now it provides the opportunity to call things for what they are, and call people to repentance. As for the magnitude, well we’re living in Corinth at least.

  5. Carolyn B

    Good article, Pastor. As I do have gay friends, I have been very leery since Friday’s decision. This is one of very few articles I wouldn’t be scared to post on my Facebook page as it seems the least antagonistic toward the other side. I want to hold to my belief that for me to live a gay lifestyle would be a sin. I also want to recognize and acknowledge that one gay friend brings more people into our (his/my) church than any other household I know in the church. Thank you for addressing this hot-button issue with a great deal of truly Christian love and clarity.

  6. Ethan S

    Great article. Personally, it has been a difficult topic for me as a Christian (one of the most difficult, if not THE most difficult). I am a peacemaker at heart, through and through and all about love. I used to think that all gay and lesbian couples should be able to have the same rights as heterosexuals because after all, I didn’t choose who I was attracted to, so how could they? And with all of the detestable homophobia that many gays and lesbians encounter, my heart was even more on fire for them to have the same rights as I would–a loving relationship and companionship that many of us aspire to find in life.

    However, my position has evolved on the issue, and it certainly has been a painful evolution. As I wrestled (and still do) with who Jesus was/is and what I have concluded at this point about the resurrection and how a number of other conclusions about the Christian faith lead me to believe in biblical authority, it was inconsistent of me to affirm gay marriage and active homosexual relationships while claiming to abide by that authority. It is one of those issues in which both sides have compelling arguments to make, but given other dispositions about my faith, I had rethink my position and take a different stance.

    And even though I have done so, it is still always one that tugs on my heart. I am constantly reminded that if my son/daughter were gay, I would want them to be able to have all that the beautiful gift of life that God has given us has to offer, ESPECIALLY love, in all its forms. After all, it seems that concluding that one must live in celibacy if he or she is not in a heterosexual relationship, even if their sexual orientation which he or she did not choose is the reason for that celibacy–loneliness, disappointment, probably often times despair–is repressive and bad for the soul, just as the Bible claims that homosexual practice is.

    Anyway, all of that personal testimony is to shed light on the positive, insightful, compassionate, and understanding portions of the article that I think need to be at the forefront of the Christian disposition on homosexuality and gay marriage. I am not saying that we have to compromise truth, which taken at face value of homosexuality in the Bible is quite harsh and direct. I am saying that for too long homosexuals have not been understood, have been oppressed (by Christians and non Christians alike), and not heard within the community at large, and the biblical straightforwardness on the issue that many Christians like to point out when emphasizing the truth portion of the argument go much deeper than a black-and-white reading–as does the entire bible. And given this unfortunate lack of communication and understanding over the years, is it really a wonder why gays and lesbians are so passionate and outspoken now, as are their families and friends who love them unconditionally and seek to support them in a way that is no less that unconditional? I humbly think that it is perfectly Christian and appropriate to think critically about this issue and suggest that had the biblical writers understood it in all its complexity (along with other issues), we might be having a different conversation–perhaps one that is more compassionate and understanding across the board. I am not in any way (directly or indirectly) trying to undermine the Bible. I am acknowledging that their understanding of the world and the human condition is not what ours is today, though we affirm that God spoke to them within that understanding and context, and we seek to follow that basis and the resulting tradition as a guide for our Christian lives. Many will say that that is simply an excuse to water down what the Bible says because I can’t handle the truth at face value. I would disagree. I think if we approached all issues critically and recognized our own culture’s distortions and inconsistencies of biblical interpretation and tried to think about the bible itself within the first-century context in which it is written, then we would be having different conversations about many issues. But that requires people to re-examine their faith and perhaps invite some uncertainty that we are uncomfortable with (and understandably so), which many are unwilling to do (not at all trying to be critical–I just think that is true).

    Anyway, just a few thoughts, and I have been needing to share my heart somewhere about this for a long time. Perhaps I should start doing so more often on other issues I struggle with as well. Above all, I think it is crucial that we keep striving to have civil and productive conversations on the many issues relevant today by avoiding responding to one another’s opinions and thoughts in a counterproductive manner. We will not get anywhere if all we can do is have shouting matches. I hope we listen in earnest, validate others, and cordially disagree at the end of the day if that ends up being the result. But, even if we do, I still hope we can have one another over for dinner. God is ever patient and graceful with us in all of our perennial mistakes, misunderstandings, and ignorance. How great is the degree, then, to pay it forward?

  7. Thank you so much for your comment Ethan. I think you captured the compassion and heart of Christ in your efforts to find answers.

  8. scratchedinstone

    Hello, I just found your blog, and it’s really cool and relevant. I know you posted this a while ago, but I’m going to comment anyway haha.
    First off, thank you for posting something like this despite all the potential criticism and hatred you could get. Too many people don’t address important things because they’re afraid of how others will respond, and claiming your beliefs for your own in a world that disagrees with you isn’t easy.
    Secondly, I love and completely agree with the ending. Even if everyone can’t agree one every little detail, we shouldn’t let it become a divisive weapon that tears us apart. Also, I appreciate how you don’t judge even when others don’t have the same view as you.
    Thanks for writing this!

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